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How Roman Catholicism Can Save Itself April 16, 2010

Posted by Mary W. Matthews in Religion & Theology.

I am no fan of Roman Catholicism. Here are a few of the many reasons why:

  • Jesus of Nazareth preached direct access to God; the Magisterium says you can only get to God through the intermediation of the Magisterium.
  • Jesus was “first among equals,” and not above doing the jobs of a house slave; the Magisterium’s power structure resembles that of the Roman Empire: emperor/pope; senator/cardinal; centurion/bishop, and so on down to the lowly soldier/priest. And whoa, check out the luxury the pope and higher-ups allow themselves!
  • Jesus welcomed women into his company; traveled with them; taught them as disciples; and chose them as apostles. The Magisterium denies these facts, denies that Genesis 1:27 and 5:1-2 are true, and treats women as subhuman creatures who are evil from the waist down.
  • Jesus loved children. A small but significant fraction of Roman Catholic priests “loves” children. Hundreds and possibly thousands of young lives have been ruined or scarred. Over the course of at least the last 50 years, the Magisterium has been far more likely to protect felonious priests than it is to protect OR succor their victims.

The current crisis in Roman Catholicism grieves me, and the reaction of the Magisterium appalls me. Decade on decade of felonies come to light, and the Church blames the media, especially the New York Times? Decade on decade of higher-ups covering up felonies, and somehow both the felonies and the cover-ups are the fault of liberal Protestants, gays, Jews — Anybody But Us?

From my viewpoint, the Magisterium has lost its moral authority and does not yet understand this. “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been two days since the most recent facts came to light about priests committing child abuse and bishops, cardinals, and popes aiding and abetting them.” Or, worse, “Bless me Father, for I have sinned. It has been two days since you raped a child.” I don’t want your blessing, Father. I want your wallet, keys, and belt as you are hauled away to prison.

If the Magisterium wants to save its power and privilege, its stranglehold over the spiritual lives of hundreds of millions, the pope MUST take this crisis onto himself. The pope must very publicly repent, and not just for his own sins in preferring to protect felonious priests over protecting victimized children. The pope must repent for the structures of the Church that led to, enabled, and covered up these terrible crimes. Indeed, the pope must repent for the crimes themselves: he must take on “the sins of the world” — of his world, of a world that imagines being ordained means being magically transformed into a better human being than the non-ordained.

Second, the pope must require every male member of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to perform the same repentance and atonement. Both felons and those who aided and abetted them must be handed over to secular authorities for civil justice.

Third, the pope must call Vatican III to address the structural flaws in Roman Catholicism that made these felonies possible. God blessed sex and called it good, so why is sex evil except for procreation? And why are women evil for compelling men to think about sex?

The pope ought to go to those nuns he’s been harassing for being too uppity, repent to THEM, and submit the entire Magisterium to their judgment.

This is how I think Roman Catholic Magisterium might be able to save itself. It’s not going to happen, of course. Even after this crisis began, the pope has continued ordaining and promoting Opus Dei priests; Opus Dei is the most elitist, misogynistic, reactionary organization in Roman Catholicism.

The poet T.S. Eliot predicted the world would end “not with a bang, but a whimper.” My prediction is that Roman Catholicism will end with a priest’s “bang” and a child’s whimper.